Migrating Customers to Self Service

 

The ongoing and significant pressure to continually improve customer satisfaction, despite lower budgets, has led call-center managers to move customers to self-service Internet interactions in order to decrease costs. Unfortunately, many self-service implementations based on customer relationship management (CRM) focus on CRM features, and fail to give sufficient consideration to the core business knowledge and processes required for a successful solution.

 

The result is the relearning of an old lesson: technology alone does not solve problems. In order to reap the benefits, new technology must be applied in accordance with business best practices. A self-service project should launch with both a technical implementation manager and a business process manager, the latter being responsible for identifying and codifying core business knowledge and processes to be represented and enacted in the self-service implementation.

 

Key Levers

Everything that happens in the call center pulls on one or more of the three call center management levers: call volume, average handle time (AHT) and agent productivity. Payroll is generally 70-80 percent of a customer interaction functionís budget, so self-service technologies that can reduce live interaction volume offer potential benefits.

 

The relevant technologies include website interfaces, interactive voice response (IVR), automated email handling and fax-back services. In contrast to these self-service technologies, live Web chat offers an example of a feature that can increase AHT.† To move customers to self-service, a company must truly understand its customer base and, in particular, the subset that interact with the corporation regularly.

Migrating Customers to Self Service

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This article originally appeared in Business Communications Review, July 2002 issue pp.42-46.† Updated July 2006

Text Box: Five Steps to Self-Service:
Ensure absolute consistency of information across service channels.
Implement end-of-call coding in the call center to capture new customer needs.
Follow the 80/20 rule to focus your resources on the minority of processes and knowledge that will support a majority of customer needs.
Leverage self-service investments by deploying knowledge and process tools in the call center to improve agent productivity and control consistency of information.
Empower customers to support themselves through ongoing knowledge and process development. Staff to support this work.

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